Do you experience pain when you lift your arm above your head? While shoulder pain can be common, it should not be ignored. The shoulder is the most mobile joint of the body. Because it’s the most mobile joint in the body, it is susceptible for injury and pain. The timeless prevalence of shoulder pain in the U.S is something that cannot be ignored as it affects people of all ages. It has an average incidence of 29.3 per 1,000 person-years over a period of 9 years, with specific incidences of 32.2 for women and 26.2 for men. Shoulder pain can be short lived or indicative of a more complex issue. Shoulder pain is one of the most common diagnoses seen in the clinic with one of the most popular question being “did I tear my rotator cuff?” another popular question is “Do I have an impingement?” Almost every day, patients are treated with shoulder pain, instability, or stiffness. Most patients have heard of the rotator cuff, however, what the rotator cuff is still remains a mystery to most.
Now, I want to first talk about the anatomy of the shoulder joint and paint a picture of what it looks like. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint which is a joint in which the rounded surface of the humerus (ball) moves within a depression (socket) on another bone which is the glenoid fossa of your scapula. Basically, the way a golf ball sits on a golf tee is how your humeral head sits in your glenoid fossa. The muscles that surround the shoulder joint are known as the rotator cuff muscles and are famously knows as SITS which are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis muscles. These muscles are in charge of stabilizing the joint as well as each individual muscle is in charge of performing various movements that the shoulder can do. Diving a little bit deeper, the supraspinatus muscle is in charge of shoulder abduction, infraspinatus and teres minor produce external rotation, and the subscapularis (which is the strongest of the four) helps with most motions of the shoulder but mainly does internal rotation.
As previously stated, because of the extensive range of motion the shoulder joint has, these rotator cuff muscles are highly susceptible to injury and tears. Rotator cuff muscle and tendon injuries can happen from injuries or wear and tear repetitive overhead motions. Other common shoulder pain can be due to: arthritis, torn cartilage, frozen shoulder, muscle weakness, pain at rest, numbness or tingling, etc.
Shoulder pain has been a common musculoskeletal condition that can negatively affect someone’s day to day life. Your shoulder was made to move. Don’t the pain slow you down and talk to a specialist physical therapist to provide the specific relief you need and benefit your active lifestyle. Shoulder pain whether it persistent or not requires a full examination and proper treatment. If you are having long lasting or severe shoulder pain, please talk to one of our specialist physical therapists to come up with a unique plan to eliminate your pain.